Rotisserie chicken has been all dressed up with international flavors at Smokin Chikin in Clarksville, Tennessee, a fast-growing eatery with the goal of “bringing the world to our food and worldly food to our guests.”
Location: 1820 Tiny Town Road, Clarksville, Tennessee
Menu: The menu is simple – chicken, chicken and more chicken. Rotisserie chicken or wings are served by the plate, in a pita or piled on top of fries, fried rice, potato salad or macaroni and cheese. The marinades range from mild to hot and run the gamut of Caribbean, La Brasa, Chimichurri, Jamaican Jerk, Buffalo, Peri Peri and Tandoori.
Sides to accompany the chicken also have an exotic flair with choices such as Island Fried Rice, Arroz Amarillo, Mediterranean Pasta Salad, Tabouli Salad or Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. For less-adventurous eaters, fries, cole slaw, potato salad, French green beans, Northern beans and sauteed broccoli are also available. Pita bread accompanies the plates and includes a housemade sauce.
Thoughts: Smokin Chikin opened five years ago and has grown to the point that a second location will debut soon. But how did a guy with a food and restaurant background from Trinidad and Tobago end up partnering with an industrial engineer from Pakistan to start a business in the first place?
Roger Khan and Mohsun Ghias are happy to credit their wives for making the connection. A strong friendship developed from play dates the wives arranged when their children were young. They found that they shared a common commitment to family values, a love for travel and an eagerness to prepare food using the spices and flavors they had sampled around the world. As the men were drawn into the friendship, the idea for a restaurant emerged, and chicken was chosen to be the star ingredient.
Roger explained that when he was young his mother gave him a “Set It and Forget It Rotisserie,” and he was immediately interested in experimenting with marinades. Friends and family play strong roles in both of their backgrounds, along with the foods that bring those friends and family members together.
Being from Third World countries, they were not classically trained as chefs, but they did learn how to cook. It might be a strain on many friendships to be in business together, but not in this case. Each of the four adults has a very distinct and separate role to play in the business, and they are very careful to “stay in their own lane,” so to speak. Mohsun handles accounting and social media. Roger manages the overall operation. Mohsun’s wife Oneeba oversees the kitchen, and at the present time, Roger’s wife Sarika is mostly home with the children, although she has had plenty of input into the formation of the restaurant’s business plans.
Both the military population from nearby Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and the industries of Google and LG have helped to propel Smokin Chikin forward with large catering orders and lots of frequent diners.
Between 700-1000 chickens are delivered each week from nearby Hampton Meats in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and spices are shipped in from around the world. Roger says a major strength of their business is their trustworthy staff. Since they don’t serve alcohol, they are able to hire teenagers who can be trained according to the philosophy of their partnership. They offer curbside delivery, have joined Uber Eats and have an online app.
I personally sampled the Caribbean chicken, the Island Fried Rice, the Mediterranean pasta salad and pita wedges, all of which I highly recommend. The chicken is succulent, tender and bursting with flavor.
Price range: Rotisserie chicken plates range from $5.99-14.99, depending on the amount of chicken and the number of sides. Pita sandwich plates from $5.99-8.99 and wing plates from $7.49-14.49.